DOJ Privacy Act Requests

This webpage contains an outline of the Department of Justice's (DOJ or Department) procedures for permitting an individual access to, or amendment of, records pertaining to that individual and maintained within a system of records, in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a.  For detailed information on the specific procedures used by the Department to process requests under the Privacy Act, individuals are encouraged to review the Department’s full regulations, codified in the Code of Federal Regulation, at 28 C.F.R. Part 16, Subpart D, Protection of Privacy and Access to Individual Records Under the Privacy Act of 1974.

 

Requesting Access to Records in Accordance with The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act permits an individual to gain access to records or any information pertaining to that individual which is contained in a system of records, subject to certain limitations and exemptions.  The Department processes all Privacy Act requests for access to records under both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, following the procedures outlined by the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy.  An outline of the Department of Justice’s procedures for requesting access to records under both the Privacy Act and the FOIA can be found on the Office of Information Policy “Make a FOIA Request to DOJ” webpage. Specifically, see the “What Are the Requirements to Get Records on Myself” section.

 

Requesting Amendment or Correction of Records in Accordance with The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act also permits an individual to request an amendment or correction of a record pertaining to that individual, subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

Making a Privacy Act Amendment or Correction Request

A request for amendment or correction of a Department of Justice record about yourself may be made by appearing in person or by writing directly to the Department component that maintains the record. In most cases, a component’s central Privacy Act or Privacy Act/FOIA office is the appropriate place to send a Privacy Act amendment request.  A list of contacts can be found at: https://www.justice.gov/oip/find-foia-contact-doj/list.  If you believe that DOJ maintains the records you would like to amend or correct, but you are uncertain about which component has the records, you may send your request to the Department’s Mail Referral Unit at

FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit
Department of Justice
Room 115
LOC Building
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Phone: (202) 616-3837
E-mail: MRUFOIA.Requests@usdoj.gov

Personnel in the Mail Referral Unit will then forward your request to the DOJ component they determine is most likely to maintain the records you would like to amend or correct.

What Should my Request Include?

All request should be labeled “Privacy Act Amendment Request,” or a similar designation. Your request should identify each particular record in question, state the amendment or correction that you wish to make, and state why you believe that the record is not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete. You may submit any documentation that you think would be helpful. If you believe that the same record is in more than one system of records, you should state that and address your request to each component that maintains a system of records containing the record.

What Can I Expect in Response to my Request?

Within ten working days of receiving your request for amendment or correction of records, the component that received your request should send you a written acknowledgment of its receipt of your request, notifying you whether your request is granted or denied. If the component grants your request in whole or in part, it will describe the amendment or correction made and will advise you of your right to obtain a copy of the corrected or amended record.  Within 30 working days of the amendment or correction of a record, the component that maintains the record should notify all persons, organizations, or agencies to which it previously disclosed the record, if an accounting of that disclosure was made, that the record has been amended or corrected.

If the component denies your request in whole or in part, it should send you a letter signed by the head of the component, or the component head’s designee, letting you know:

(1) The reason(s) for the denial; and

(2) The procedure for appeal of the denial, including the name and business address of the official who will act on your appeal.

How Do I Request an Administrative Appeal of a Denied Amendment or Correction Request?

If you are dissatisfied with the component's handling of your request for amendment or correction, you may appeal to the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties.  Information on how to contact this Office can be found on the "Contact the Office" webpage. You must make your appeal in writing and it must be received by the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties within 60 days of the date of the letter denying your request.

Your appeal letter may include as much related information as you wish, as long as it clearly identifies the component determination (including the assigned request number, if known) that you are appealing. For the quickest possible handling, you should mark both your appeal letter and the envelope “Privacy Act Amendment Appeal.” 

What Happens if my Administrative Appeal Is Denied?

In most cases, if your appeal is denied in whole or in part, you will be advised of your right to file a Statement of Disagreement and of your right under the Privacy Act to a court review of the decision.

A Statement of Disagreement states your reason(s) for disagreeing with the Department’s denial of your request for amendment or correction. Statements of Disagreement must be concise, must clearly identify each part of any record that is disputed, and should be no longer than one typed page for each fact disputed.  Your Statement of Disagreement must be sent to the component involved, which will place it in the system of records in which the disputed record is maintained and will mark the disputed record to indicate that a Statement of Disagreement has been filed and where in the system of records it may be found.  If an individual has filed a Statement of Disagreement, the component will append a copy of it to the disputed record whenever the record is disclosed and may also append a concise statement of its reason(s) for denying the request to amend or correct the record.

The Privacy Act provides requestors the right to challenge the Department’s action in federal court. A federal judge will conduct an independent review of the Department’s action on your request.  Before filing a lawsuit, however, you ordinarily will be required to have first filed an administrative appeal, as stated above.

What Records are not Subject to Amendment or Correction?

The following records are not subject to amendment or correction:

(1) Transcripts of testimony given under oath or written statements made under oath;

(2) Transcripts of grand jury proceedings, judicial proceedings, or quasi-judicial proceedings, which are the official record of those proceedings;

(3) Presentence records that originated with the courts; and

(4) Records in systems of records that have been exempted from amendment and correction in accordance with the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a(j) or (k), by notice published in the Federal Register.

Updated April 7, 2017